Fifty Shades, Kingsman's Spy Hijinks, a new Spike Lee, and More
Fifty Shades of Grey
What's it about? A literature student (Dakota Johnson) and a wealthy businessman (Jamie Dornan) have an unusual sexual relationship. Who the devil made it? Director Sam Taylor-Johnson (right) was an accomplished visual artist before she became a filmmaker, and ace cinematographer Seamus McGarvey (Atonement, The Avengers) knows his way around a movie camera. Danny Elfman contributed the score. What are the tech specs? Shot with the ARRI Alexa XT with Panavision C-Series and E-Series anamorphic primes plus AWZ2 and ATZ anamorphic zooms. Recorded in 2.8K ARRIRAW on the Codex system. Finished and distributed at 2K. (via IMDb) Is it any good? Rotten Tomatoes: 34%. Metacritic: 47/100. Where's it playing? Everywhere, including, believe it or not, the huge IMAX theater at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square in New York City. Will it make any money? Yep. It will be one of the widest R-rated openings of all time, and many weekend showtimes are already sold out. A $60 million dollar opening over the four-day President's Day/Valentine's Day weekend seems likely as a floor, and some observers are speculating that box-office could approach the $100 million mark by Monday night. Two sequels are already in the works.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
What's it about? A secret spy program faces off against a tech magnate in an over-the-top action film The Guardian describes as a "thrillingly adolescent 007 pastiche." Who the devil made it? Director and co-screenwriter Matthew Vaughn, best-known for Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class, adapts a comic book by Dave Gibbons and Mark Millar. Who did the VFX? Prime Focus World, Nvizage, BaseBlack, Millennium FX, Blind, Nvizible, The Visual Effects Company, For Realise, BUF and Peanut Outsource. (via Cinefex) What are the tech specs? Shot with the ARRI Alexa XT and Hawk V-Lite anamorphic lenses. Recorded in 2.8K ARRIRAW on the Codex system. Finished and distributed at 2K. (via IMDb) Is it any good? Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 58/100. Where's it playing? Everywhere. Will it make any money? It seems likely. Expect a four-day opening in the $30-$40 million range.
Da Sweet Blood of Jesus
What's it about? A cursed artifact afflicts an anthropologist with an addiction to blood in this "reinterpretation" of the cult horror film Ganja & Hess. Who the devil made it? It's a Spike Lee joint. Who did the make-up FX? That would be Josh Turi, a multiple Emmy-winner for his work with Saturday Night Live. What are the tech specs? Cinematographer Daniel Patterson shot with the Sony F55. Lots of details are online at Deep Fried Movies. Is it any good? Rotten Tomatoes: 47%. Metacritic: 56/100. Where's it playing? New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Toronto, Cleveland, OH, Detroit, MI, Chicago, IL, Atlanta, GA, Lubbock, TX, and Phoenix, AZ. Also available on Vimeo and VOD platforms. Will it make any money? Not much, but if Spike Lee's fanbase turns out and word of mouth is good, it could do OK. See it this weekend if you want to catch it on the big screen.
L.A. Repertory: Catch director Bob Fosse's Lenny and All That Jazz, both screening at the 35mm-only New Beverly this weekend. The phenomenal All That Jazz — #4 on the Motion Picture Editors Guild's 2012 list of the best-edited films of all time — was spoofed in the second episode of Breaking Bad sequel/prequel Better Call Saul.
New York Repertory: Use Film Forum's John Boorman retrospective as an excuse to catch up on some movies you haven't seen, or revist an old favorite — like the amazing Lee Marvin revenge thriller Point Blank (above), a master class in widescreen cinematography that was shot while John Wick's Keanu Reeves was likely still in diapers, or the one-of-a-kind post-apocalyptic epic Zardoz, starring an early-1970s-era Sean Connery (right) in a fancy red loincloth. It's all a run-up to the release of the director's latest film, the Hope and Glory sequel Queen and Country, which opens exclusively at Film Forum on Wednesday, February 18.
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